Tattoos are art and should not be stigmatized


Kernel Opinion SIG

Since many college students have tattoos, we need a discussion about destigmatizing tattoos in the workplace.

Tattoos should be accepted more in the workplace, because tattoos are art and reflect personal details about a person’s life. 

Sometimes students are worried about how their tattoos will affect their abilities to get started in their career after college, but this shouldn’t be an issue.

Tattoos, however unprofessional they may look to some people, are pieces of art. Would a manager hire someone with an American flag on their car? Maybe. What if that same person had an American flag on their forearm? Because it is seen as unprofessional, that person might not get the job.

People who desperately need jobs resort to covering their tattoos with clothes to not be seen as unprofessional when they go in for job interviews. But why should people have to cover up art? The artist is the painter and the flesh of the person receiving the tattoo is the canvas.

Most of the time, people get tattoos because the tattoo means something personal to them. Maybe it is to remember a fallen friend or family member. Maybe it for mental health reasons, such as an inspiring quote on an arm. Perhaps it is to tell a personal story. 

One such example of storytelling through a tattoo is Graham Allen, who leads a Facebook video series called Rant Nation with Graham Allen, in which he shares his own opinions about a variety of issues. In one video, he says his tattoos are to tell people about a slew of things, like his service in the military or to share the fact that he comes from a broken home.

If Allen can be on Facebook, gaining thousands upon thousands of followers, for example, why is it so unacceptable for an employer to give a person with tattoos a job? When an employer doesn’t give a person with tattoos a job, in my mind, it is similar to discrimination. When an employer judges someone with tattoos, they could be shaming the person’s story behind their tattoo.

It is not impossible to get a job if you have tattoos. I had one professor at Jefferson Community and Technical College before I transferred here who had tattoos clearly visible on her arms. She took pride in the tattoos she had and was perhaps one of the best professors I have ever had. I have had many other professors since then that have tattoos, and they are in successful careers. 

Having a tattoo does not hinder a person from doing a job just as well as the next person. Students and employees should never be ashamed of art on their bodies.